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Multi-Lab Collaborative Experiments with RHX Dating

Author(s): Timothy Scarlett ; Carl Lipo ; Jaroslaw Drelich ; Shan Zhao ; Elizabeth Niespolo

Year: 2015

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Michigan Technological University, California State University-Long Beach, and Arizona State University scientists have been collaborating on a critical assessment of the novel RHX Dating technique, pioneered by Wilson et al. (2009). This chronometric technique, if proven reliable, will transform archaeological dating practices. We have conducted multiple trials with a wide range of ceramic types from Neolithic through Early Modern, using varied set ups of instrumentation and thoughtful lab protocols. We continue to refine models of the rehydration and rehydroxylation processes; explore the relationship between relative humidity and RHX behaviors and other water crystallization systems; examine different lab practices and protocols; and assess other mechanisms of mass loss and gain, such as decarboration, carbonization or organic contaminants, and decomposition of sulfates and salts. At this time, analytical trials of 50% of our samples yield dates close to expected dates of manufacture while the other 50% remain inaccurate. We are cautiously optimistic for the ongoing development of this dating technique, but many very important questions remain to be answered.

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Multi-Lab Collaborative Experiments with RHX Dating. Timothy Scarlett, Jaroslaw Drelich, Carl Lipo, Elizabeth Niespolo, Shan Zhao. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397303)


Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America